Calling Experts and Survivors: Help Develop a Sex Trafficking Healthcare Provider Educational Program

By Cathy Miller, R.N., Ph.D.c.

Incomprehensible stories of child sex trafficking (CST) proliferate in media headlines. Public awareness has steadily risen over the past decade, prompting calls for action against perpetrators who sexually victimize children and adolescents for financial gain.  CST has been recognized as a new pandemic as well as a public health and economic risk.  The enslavement of children for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation is an extreme violation of human rights.  Not only are the basic human rights of these children stolen, the mental and physical health needs of this victimized and marginalized population are woefully unmet.  The consequences of such exposure often results in cumulative impairments, such as psychiatric and addictive disorders, chronic medical and mental illness, and legal, vocational, and family negative outcomes in childhood, through adolescence, and into adulthood.

600,000-2.6 million individuals are trafficked globally each year.  The large variance in reporting has been linked to a lack of recognition and reporting by healthcare providers and law enforcement.   Literature recognizes that health care providers may be the only individuals outside the trafficking criminal network that victims may encounter during captivity.   Health care providers are hindered in recognition, reporting, and intervention by a lack of scientifically based education frameworks, training, and standardized reporting systems.

In efforts to answer the call for a for a scientifically based health care provider education program, research is currently being conducted to identify the most crucial elements of a comprehensive, multidisciplinary education program for doctors, nurses, and first responders.


Child sex trafficking (CST) has been recognized as a new pandemic.  However, there are no scientifically based education programs for healthcare providers on the recognition, intervention, and referral of this population.


This study’s objective is to understand what elements constitute a comprehensive, multidisciplinary CST healthcare provider education program for the recognition, intervention, and referral of CST survivors.

Research Question

What are the crucial elements needed in a comprehensive healthcare provider education program to increase reliable recognition, intervention, and referral of victims of CST?


A Delphi study will be conducted to identify the most critical inter-disciplinary elements of a comprehensive, evidence-based education program for healthcare providers.

We are currently seeking expert and survivor study participants.  This study has been approved through the University of Texas-Tyler Institutional Review Board.  The disciplines required include:

Health Care

  • Emergency Medicine Physicians
  • Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE)
  • Registered Nurses
  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Paramedics

Law Enforcement

  • Federal Law Enforcement
  • State Law Enforcement
  • Immigration Officials


  • Nursing Academic Faculty
  • Medical Academic Faculty
  • Academic experts obtained from literature

Social Sciences and Services

  • Sociologists
  • Social Workers
  • NGO officials


The inclusion criteria include:

CST Survivor:

  1.  Has acknowledged he or she has been a CST victim as a child or adolescent (before the age of 18).
  2. Willingness to participate.
  3. English speaking.
  4. Computer and internet access.


  1.  Willingness to participate.
  2.  English speaking.
  3. > 5 years of experience in their respective fields.
  4. > 3 years of experience as a CST advocate and/or
  5. Recognized as an expert on CST (either referenced as such or CST publications).
  6. Computer and e-mail access.


Your time and expertise are crucial to the development of a quality, scientifically based CST education program for health care providers and would be greatly appreciated.  If you are interested in participating or would like more information, please contact the primary investigator, Cathy Miller RN, PhDc at Cathy_Miller [at]


Image is from D. Pruitt at Wikimedia Commons.

1 thought on “Calling Experts and Survivors: Help Develop a Sex Trafficking Healthcare Provider Educational Program”

  1. It is relieving to know that a problematic issue at CST has been recognized as a new pandemic that needs immediate attention. CST saddens me because its victims are the future generation of the more advanced and technical scientific committee, therefore with acquired mental illnesses and psychiatric disorders, future generations will be jeopardized. I believe that the CST healthcare provider educational problem will be more effective if more CST survivors are recruited. These survivors have first hand experience, they know the victim’s thoughts and feelings as they have gone through the same trauma, thus they can be of more help in the recovery of other victims.


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